Why learning for future innovation is an essential skill 

Why learning for future innovation is an essential skill 

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There are few parts of our lives that haven’t been fundamentally changed by the growth of technology over the past few decades – and nobody knows this better than Information Technology (IT) professionals. In fact, if you work in IT there’s a good chance that your job didn’t even exist ten years ago. But technology isn’t only changing the IT world: it’s changing almost every facet of the way we live, work and interact. 

How you approach this level of change on a daily basis can either be the catalyst for boundless innovation or a serious detriment to the success of your business. In this blog, we’ll take a look at why being prepared to learn for future innovation can be the best defence against stagnation in an ever-changing market. 

Learning for future innovation requires specific techniques and agility 

Learning for future innovation is a very different process to learning for something that already exists. Learning for an existing technology is more straight-forward because the method you choose is already tried and tested. Learning for future innovation, by contrast, seems almost self-contradictory.

While it’s certainly no walk in the park, there are ways to make this easier, and at the rate that technology continues to drive our world forward, there will be an ever-increasing number of topics to cover. And, if the mounting evidence is to be believed, most of us have been taught how to learn ‘wrongly’ throughout our lives. For professionals who are serious about learning future technologies, it’s vital to be able to adapt to a variety of working conditions, learning styles and environments in order to think outside the box and innovate more easily than the competition. 

Everybody learns in their own way; no two learning styles are the same. 

Every person has their preferred learning style, and what works for one person might be totally ineffective for the next. Here are the most common learning styles: 

  • Elaborative interrogation: Being able to explain why an explicitly stated fact or concept is true – in other words, repeatedly questioning the facts or pushing the concept to its limits 
  • Self-explanation: Explaining new concepts in the context of existing information, or explaining the necessary steps taken during problem solving. 
  • Summarisation: Summarising information in various lengths, to study from later 
  • Highlighting/underlining: Marking the pertinent sections of a text or piece of work to be revisited later 
  • Keyword mnemonic: Using keywords and mental imagery to associate verbal materials 
  • Imagery for text: Forming a set of related mental images from text materials while reading or listening 
  • Rereading: Restudying text material again after an initial reading, often several times 
  • Practice testing: Self-testing or doing practice tests on the material that needs to be learned 
  • Distributed practice: Implementing a schedule of practice that spreads out study activities over time, with the objective of forming a long-term understanding 
  • Interleaved practice: A schedule of practice that mixes different kinds of problems, or a study programme that mixes different kinds of material within one single study session 

Having an understanding of the different learning styles and how they differ from one another isn’t only a good way to find out which works best for you, it’s also a valuable tool for understanding how the other members of your team may prefer to learn. Ultimately, working as a team means being able to translate new information into a format your colleagues are able to understand is as important as being able to understand it yourself. 

DevOps courses in Singapore 

Whether you’re a DevOps veteran looking for a new opportunity for innovation or an aspiring newbie, ECS Digital Singapore offers a comprehensive selection of training courses that cover everything from DevOps basics to advanced tips and tricks.  

Having spent over 12 years implementing DevOps in organisations around the world, we have adopted a variety of learning styles to ensure what we teach can be easily absorbed by those wishing to learn.   

In our experience, one of the most effective styles for developing skills in new technology and tools is face-to-face sessions. With this in mind, we have partnered with Singapore Management University to deliver an interactive three-day course designed to give you a better understanding of the DevOps methodology.  

If you’d like to find out more about developing your DevOps understanding and skills further, visit our training page to find out more about our Adopting DevOps course in Singapore. 

Kok Hoong WaiWhy learning for future innovation is an essential skill 
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Learning DevOps: Theory versus Practice

Learning DevOps: Theory versus Practice

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DevOps is notoriously difficult to define.

There are many reasons for this, not least of which is that it’s not simply a skill, a tool or a process – it’s a combination of all three. More specifically, it is how these three factors interact to bring about a change in the way software is delivered. For this reason, learning DevOps is a tricky thing to talk about.

Knowing the theory behind good DevOps practices is essential, but without any practical knowledge, you’ll quickly find yourself out of your depth in your organisation’s DevOps journey. As Alfred Korzybski put it, ‘the map is not the territory’. But that doesn’t mean you should jump head-first into DevOps without any kind of roadmap.

In short, mastering DevOps requires both a solid understanding of the theory that underpins it, as well as the ability to handle the reality of DevOps in practice. In this blog, we’ll look at what this means for learning DevOps.

Theory provides the foundation, practice allows for innovation.

In a strange way, learning DevOps is similar to learning how to play an instrument: you could spend years studying the theory and learning how to read music, but if you never sit down to practice, you won’t have any idea how to actually play a piece of music. In the same way, learning the fundamentals of DevOps lays the groundwork, but without practical experience, you’ll very quickly find yourself out of your depth.

A significant part of success with DevOps relies on innovation – the theory might show you how to accomplish something, but there is no ‘one size fits all’ DevOps solution. With practice, you’ll be able to refine and adapt the theory to create a variation that suits your organisation perfectly.

By no means is this a recipe for success. You may get some broken chords along the way, but the key is to learn from your mistakes and improve. As Elon Musk – CEO of Tesla and SpaceX – says “If you’re not failing, you’re not innovating enough.” Ultimately, having a good handle on both the theory and practical application of DevOps is essential for organisations that pride themselves on innovation.

What is DevOps theory, and where do I learn it?

The way we see it at ECS Digital, DevOps consultancy consists of three components: people, processes and tools – in that order.

DevOps theory is concerned with the first two: people and processes. Because DevOps makes some fundamental changes to the way people within the organisation collaborate, getting a handle on the theory behind it requires completely rethinking the nature of a software company from the ground up. At its core, DevOps is influenced by the principles of agile software development – continuous delivery and integration. Shorter delivery times and working in sprints are the legacy of agile development’s influence on DevOps.

There are many resources for learning about DevOps theory all around the internet, from blogs, to social media portals, to training videos on sites like Vimeo and YouTube. However, more in-depth training focuses on theory and practice in equal measure, since mastering DevOps requires an understanding of both as two sides of the same coin. 

What is the best way to learn about DevOps in practice?

The final component of DevOps in ECS Digital’s view are the tools that underpin the software delivery processes and bring DevOps to life. Defining exactly what a DevOps tool is can be problematic, since there are many aspects of the practice that can be augmented with a huge number of tools. Because of this, it’s not uncommon for different organisations to use entirely different combinations of tooling depending on what works best for them.

Typically, DevOps tools can be grouped into some core categories:

  1. Configuration Management – tools like Ansible, Puppet and Chef make it possible to manage and automate infrastructure as code;
  2. Application Deployment – tools such as Automic and Jenkins provide the framework for continuous integration;
  3. Delivery

Learning which of these are most valuable to your cause comes with experience of the tools themselves. The DevOps training offered by ECS Digital Singapore provides the theoretical foundations and then introduces the practical concept with some of the leading tools.

DevOps courses in Singapore

Whether you’re a DevOps veteran looking for new opportunity for innovation or an aspiring newbie, ECS Digital offers a comprehensive selection of training courses in Singapore that cover everything from DevOps basics to advanced tips and tricks.

Not only do we have 12 years’ experience implementing DevOps in organisations around the world and in a myriad of different industries, we have partnered with Singapore Management University to deliver an interactive three-day course designed to give you a better understanding of the DevOps methodology.

If you’d like to find out more about developing your DevOps understanding and skills further, visit our training page to find out more about our Adopting DevOps course in Singapore.

Kok Hoong WaiLearning DevOps: Theory versus Practice
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Singapore is not DevOps ready but ready for DevOps

Singapore is not DevOps ready but ready for DevOps

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DevOps is a culture that has been exponentially gaining popularity in its application and adoption in many European and American based companies. In spite of its popularity though, much of Asia is slow on its adoption, and Singapore is no different. In spite of this however, as a globalised city, Singapore is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the experience of the matured DevOps markets and spread it throughout the region.

What is DevOps?

Before any company can adopt DevOps, it is important to pinpoint what DevOps is, and just as importantly what it isn’t.

‘DevOps is automation and Infrastructure as Code’. No, it isn’t. It’s not a team either

Having automation doesn’t make an organisation “do” DevOps anymore than having a car makes one a driver. In both examples, the tool is certainly critical, but it’s part of it rather than the whole idea.

DevOps

In addition to the above misconception, one very common misnomer of DevOps is having a “DevOps team”. There is no such thing. There can be a team dedicated to maintenance of the automation tools and the maintenance of the pipeline, but there is no team that is “doing DevOps”. If there exists such a thing within the organisation than they are doing DevOps wrong.

The culture of DevOps

As this subtitle indicates, DevOps is a culture. It is not a tool, it is not a team and it most certainly is not a passing fad. DevOps is the logical extension of the popular Agile methodology.

While the Agile methodology can, and has, fill entire books, for brevity, the key principles are “collaboration, flexibility and adaptability”. DevOps is all about continuous feedback and the dissolution of programming silos (groups) to encourage cooperation and quicker responses. This is carried out through the automation of as many processes as possible.

Credit: Atlassian https://marketplace.atlassian.com/categories/devops

The above infinity figure is very popular when describing DevOps. While the specific details of each section may differ from organisation to organisation, its essence remains the same; DevOps is a concept that loops back onto itself, providing a continuous process.

Developers keen on reducing overhead and improving their processes is one thing, but management must also

Continuous Integration is all about developing a pipeline that integrates the code into the shared repository often and triggering the various automated tests and builds to ensure functionality, i.e. ‘if it breaks, you will know.’ The results of these builds and tests are fed back to the developers, which allows to fix the problem, if any, or move on to other work. This facilitates the quicker feature development and reaction to market changes, which all organisations strive for.

Why DevOps?

As has been established, the DevOps philosophy has many benefits when being adopted. However, how does any of that actually help the organisation?

This is where the unparalleled flexibility and adaptability of DevOps bears fruits. The reduction of development cycle times from months to weeks, even days for the more ambitious organisations, offers an unprecedented ability to react to market forces and competitors. Rather than scrambling around in a bid to mimic what rival companies have made, it becomes possible to become a market leader, pushing new releases and updates within weeks when the market is still fresh.

Even within the organisation, the culture would bear fruit. The smoothening of the development process through automation frees up resources that can be better spent elsewhere, such as actual problems that need addressing instead of facilitating the work of others.

Automated testing allows developers to identify issues with minor code commits immediately, and with no overhead from needing to create test cases or environments. On top of that, this has the side benefit of preventing the compounding of bugs and issues to be discovered on “deployment day”, with entire weekends burnt debugging the now massive code merges.

How Singapore is not DevOps ready but ready for DevOps

Many companies in Singapore still suffer under the misconceptions of what DevOps is and isn’t. Without a strong push from the government or a market disruptor, there is no strong impetus for organisations to innovate or change. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. This status quo won’t remain as is however; change is the only constant. Eventually, companies will be forced to adapt or be left behind.

That being said, that companies and teams in Singapore are trying to integrate the DevOps culture is a good sign and a step in the right direction. As the regional hub and the gateway of many companies into the region, Singapore can easily lead the region with its established technology foothold and infrastructure.

Bringing newcomers up to speed

Regardless of the organisation, on-boarding of newcomers is a significant drain on resources. From the initial probationary period, to familiarisation with company culture to training in the usage of company tools, each step can be a challenge to succeed. Let us at ECS digital help you do so. The flexibility of our courses can be custom-suited to the tools and frameworks used by your organisation. Not only will students walk away with a clearer understanding of what DevOps is, but they will have a foundation of what it means to your organisation and how the philosophy and tools facilitate this.

Kok Hoong WaiSingapore is not DevOps ready but ready for DevOps
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Learning DevOps: Theory versus Practice

Learning DevOps: Theory versus Practice

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DevOps is notoriously difficult to define. There are many reasons for this, not least of which is that it’s not simply a skill, a tool or a process – it’s a combination of all three, and specifically how these three factors interact to bring about a change in the way software is delivered. For this  reason, learning for DevOps is a tricky thing to talk about. Knowing the theory behind good DevOpspractices is essential, but without any practical knowledge, you’ll quickly find yourself out of your depth in your organisations DevOps journey. As Alfred Korzybski put it, the map is not the territory. But that doesn’t mean you should jump head-first into DevOps without any kind of roadmap. In short, mastering DevOps requires both a solid understanding of the theory that underpins it, as well as the ability to handle the reality of DevOps in practice. In this blog, we’ll look at what this means for learning DevOps.

Theory provides the foundation, practice allows for innovation.

In a strange way, learning DevOps is similar to learning how to play an instrument: you could spend years studying the theory and learning how to read music, but if you never sit down to practice, you won’t have any idea how to actually play a piece of music. In the same way, learning the fundamentals of DevOps lays the groundwork, but without practical experience, you’ll very quickly find yourself out of your depth. A significant part of success with DevOps relies on innovation – the theory might show you how to accomplish something, but there is no ‘one size fits all’ DevOps solution. With practice, you’ll be able to refine and adapt the theory to create a variation that suits your organisation perfectly. By no means is this a recipe for success, you may get some broken chords along the way but the key is to learn from your mistakes and improve. As Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX says “If you’re not failing you’re not innovating enough.” Ultimately, having a good handle on both the theory and practical application of DevOps is essential for organisations that pride themselves on innovation.

What is DevOps theory, and where do I learn it?

The way we see it at ECS Digital, DevOps consultancy consists of three components: people, processes and tools – in that order of importance. DevOps theory is concerned with the first two: people and processes. Because DevOps makes some fundamental changes to the way people within the organisation collaborate, getting a handle on the theory behind it requires completely rethinking the nature of a software company from the ground up. At its core, DevOps is influenced by the principles of agile software development – continuous delivery and integration. Shorter delivery times and working in sprints are the legacy of agile development’s influence on DevOps. There are many resources for learning about DevOps theory all around the internet, from blogs, to social media portals, to training videos on sites like Vimeo and YouTube. However, more in-depth training focuses on theory and practice in equal measure, since mastering DevOps requires an understanding of theory and practice as two sides of the same coin. 

What is the best way to learn about DevOps in practice?

The final component of DevOps in ECS Digital’s view are the tools that underpin the software delivery processes and bring DevOps to life. Defining exactly what a DevOps tool is can be problematic, since there are many aspects of the practice that can be augmented with a huge number of tools, and different organisations may use entirely different combinations of tooling depending on what works best for them. Typically, DevOps tools can be grouped into some core categories: Configuration Management tools like Ansible, Puppet and Chef  make it possible to manage and automate infrastructure as code; Application Deployment tools such as Automic and Jenkins provide the framework for continuous integration, and delivery;

Learning which of these are most valuable to your cause comes with experience of the tools themselves. The DevOps training offered by ECS Digital provides the theoretical foundations and then introduces the practical concept with some of the leading tools.

Whether you’re a DevOps veteran looking for new opportunity for innovation or an aspiring newbie, ECS Digital offers a comprehensive selection of training courses that cover everything from DevOps basics to advanced tips and tricks. As a consultancy with over 12 years’ experience implementing DevOps in organisations around the world and in a myriad of different industries, our training provides some truly unique insights on DevOps. If you’d like to find out more about getting started on your DevOps career, visit our training page to find out more about our Introduction to DevOps course.

Andy CuretonLearning DevOps: Theory versus Practice
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Mastering Jenkins CI with ECS Digital’s training courses

Mastering Jenkins CI with ECS Digital’s training courses

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As far as Continuous Integration software goes, Jenkins, is one of the most widely-used and well-renowned on the market today. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a CI pipeline that doesn’t use Jenkins at all. There are a number of reasons for Jenkins’ success as one of the most commonly used DevOps tools, but one of the most significant is the ease with which Jenkins can be customised and tweaked to perfectly suit the flow of work in any business. As an open source DevOps platform, Jenkins also has a huge base of contributors – including some of our very own from ECS Digital – and an extensive library of user-created plugins for download. Simply put, mastering Jenkins is an invaluable skill for any developer or operations engineer, and the results speak for themselves. In this blog, we’ll look at what it means to master Jenkins, and howECS Digital’s training courses can help you fast-track your journey to becoming a Jenkins Jedi.

How does Jenkins fit in with a Continuous Delivery pipeline?

Jenkins is a Continuous Integration server that makes it possible for code to be automatically built, tested and deployed. It is a powerful tool that is used to define entire CD pipelines providing quick and detailed feedback on test results, which ultimately makes it possible to deliver better software, faster. Jenkins works with virtually every SCM platform, and comes with a range of plugins for integrating with other applications to link every stage of your CD pipeline together. In a lot of ways, Jenkins is the pipeline – by bringing all the disparate systems involved in the delivery of software together in one dashboard, and then giving everyone in your organisation access to that data, you create a central portal for information.  As usage of Jenkins becomes more widespread and it becomes a critical system in organisations,  the topics around service levels and total cost of ownership start to arise.  At this point, many customers look at the @CloudBees Jenkins Platformand the advantages that it provides in these areas.

What makes Jenkins so popular as a Continuous Integration platform?

Aside from the fact that Jenkins is intuitive and easy to use, there are a number of benefits that make it stand out from the rest of the pack. Firstly, the Jenkins plugin database is one of the largest and most comprehensive out there, thanks to its active open source community. Creating your own plugins is also easy, and Jenkins comes with a selection of template plugins that you can use as a starting point if you aren’t familiar enough to start from scratch. This blog on DevOps.com features some of the best plugins for productivity available at the moment, but the list is always expanding. Of course, once you’ve mastered Jenkins you’ll be able to create your own plugins that suit your processes perfectly.

Another feature of Jenkins that has lead to its popularity is the fact that the developers provide iterative updates to the program code. This means that updates are incremental, frequent, and don’t get in the way of using the software.

ECS Digital’s Experience with Jenkins

As a company with extensive experience in business automation and DevOps in many different industries around the world, we find Jenkins to be one of the most universally beneficial DevOps tools, and as a result we’ve spent a lot of time understanding the nuts and bolts of the software. Most importantly, we have hands-on experience with Jenkins implementations in real business cases, so we have a deep understanding of both the theory and it’s practical application. The courses we offer at ECS Digital cover both open source Jenkins and @CloudBees Jenkins Enterprise and are intended to cover the learning journey from introduction and core concepts, through installation and administration, day to day usage and finally advanced usage and functionality such as Workflow.  Courses provide hands-on examples and are made up of 50% theory and 50% practical content. Some of the highlights of our Advanced Jenkins course include:

  • Fingerprints: audit trail of artefacts
  • Static and dynamic code analysis with Jenkins
  • Advanced builds – Parametrized, Dependency graph, artifacts copying, automated builds test
  • Multi-configuration (matrix) project
  • Jenkins pipeline and Continuous Integration workflows – plugin to build pipelines.

To find out more about our Jenkins training courses, or learn more about Continuous Integrationand what Jenkins can provide for your business, sign up for one of our training courses here.

Andy CuretonMastering Jenkins CI with ECS Digital’s training courses
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Why learning for future innovation is an essential skill

Why learning for future innovation is an essential skill

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light bulb made up of learning and innovation symbolsThere are few parts of our lives that haven’t been fundamentally changed by the growth of technology over the past few decades – and nobody knows this better than Information Technology (IT) professionals. In fact, if you work in IT there’s a good chance that your job didn’t even exist ten years ago. But technology isn’t only changing the IT world: it’s changing almost every facet of the way we live, work and interact.

How you approach this level of change on a daily basis can either be the catalyst for boundless innovation or a serious detriment to the success of your business. In this blog, we’ll take a look at why being prepared to learn for future innovation can be the best defense against stagnation in an ever-changing market.

Learning for future innovation requires specific techniques and agility

Learning for future innovation is a very different process to learning for something that already exists – learning for an existing technology is more straight-forward because the method you choose is already tried and tested. Learning for future innovation, by contrast, seems almost self-contradictory. While it’s certainly no walk in the park, there are ways to make this easier, and at the rate that technology continues to drive our world forward, there will be an ever increasing number of topics to cover. And, if the mounting evidence is to be believed, most of us have been taught how to learn ‘wrongly’ throughout our lives. For professionals who are serious about learning future technologies, it’s vital to be able to adapt to a variety of working conditions, learning styles and environments in order to think outside the box and innovate more easily than the competition.

Everybody learns in their own way; no two learning styles are the same.

Every person has their preferred learning style, and what works for one person might be totally ineffective for the next. Here is a brief description of the most common learning styles:

  • Elaborative interrogation: Being able to explain why an explicitly stated fact or concept is true – in other words, repeatedly questioning the facts or pushing the concept to its limits.
  • Self-explanation: Explaining new concepts in the context of existing information, or explaining the necessary steps taken during problem solving.
  • Summarisation: Summarising information in various lengths, to study from later.
  • Highlighting/underlining: Marking the pertinent sections of a text or piece of work to be revisited later.
  • Keyword mnemonic: Using keywords and mental imagery to associate verbal materials.
  • Imagery for text: Forming a set of related mental images from text materials while reading or listening.
  • Rereading: Restudying text material again after an initial reading, often several times.
  • Practice testing: Self-testing or doing practice tests on the material that needs to be learned.
  • Distributed practice: Implementing a schedule of practice that spreads out study activities over time, with the objective of forming a long-term understanding.
  • Interleaved practice: A schedule of practice that mixes different kinds of problems, or a study programme that mixes different kinds of material within one single study session.

Having an understanding of the different learning styles and how they differ from one another isn’t only a good way to find out which works best for you, it’s also a valuable tool for understanding how the other members of your team may prefer to learn. Ultimately, working as a team means that being able to translate new information into a format your colleagues are able to understand is as important as being able to understand it yourself.

With over 10 years experience delivering courses, our trainers understand their audiences and are able to deliver the subject matter in ways that all attendees can digest.  For more information on how to kick-start your learning journey towards future innovation, or to enquire about our DevOps consultation services, please contact us today.

Image credit: Digitalist Mag

Andy CuretonWhy learning for future innovation is an essential skill
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